So you have a full-time job and you want to embark on a dazzling journey to get a new degree (or finally finish your degree), and the only realistic option for you is an online course. And you wonder to yourself: can I actually do my job and get this degree while I’m still working? Or is this the academic equivalent of shooting myself in the foot?
The truth is: getting your degree online is actually a good thing for you. It gives you more flexibility, it allows you to fit your coursework into your workday and your free time, and it erases any need for you to commute to a school campus. In short, you can earn your degree and continue to work too.
But you will need to manage your time seriously. If you intend to continue receiving that paycheck then you will need to participate in online discussions, attend your online lectures and submit your papers and projects in-between hustling for customers, managing your workload, and submitting your deliverables for your day job. This calls for a few suggested tips on time management for full-time employees earning their online degrees.
Prioritize the Urgent
This is self-evident. You will have deadlines left and right once you’re working toward that online degree and you need to be able to figure out what should be worked on at any given time. The trick is to prioritize. Do you finish your sales presentation for work or your project for your online class? Which is more important right now? Only you can decide what needs to be done ASAP and what can be put off for a later date. Concentrate on the urgent and you let the less urgent tasks slide until you’re through with the urgent tasks.
You won’t accomplish anything without goals. Aim for concrete objectives by specific dates. This is where lists and calendars come in. Make a list of your objectives and their due dates for each week. Review your calendar and your goals on a weekly basis, in order to stay on top of everything.
It’s easy to get caught up in procrastination. Put off something today and you might never get to it at all. Which is why discipline is necessary for the working student. Know how much time you have to accomplish a project and budget your time so that you do a little coursework every day. Make it a habit to sit at the computer and do chunks of a project at a time.
If you’re doing your coursework or listening to a lecture, turn off Twitter and log out of Facebook and Gmail. You already have enough work to do without wasting any more time on social media or email. Use a timer to keep track of how much time you give yourself in each session. Or use a freeware tool like Dropcloth to black out the rest of your computer screen apart from the window you’re currently working on.
Do not wait for the last minute to submit your papers. With everyone else submitting on the same date, you might just experience a system slowdown and lose precious minutes. Instead of being subjected to this hassle, why not do your work early and submit it before the deadline? After all, you can do the readings, answer discussion questions, and write your papers at your own convenience. Doing these things ahead of time shows initiative and frees up the rest of your time for advance reading.